Thursday, February 09, 2012

Fear 3 PS3 review

I've enjoyed the FEAR series I've found it a good horror story fitted to a first-person shooting mechanism; sadly the latest in the series didn't meet up to my expectations having turned into a first-person shooter with horror elements.

To put myself back into the picture for the third instalment I ran through FEAR 1 and 2 on the easiest setting and then ran FEAR 3 (or F3AR as they style it) on the same easiest setting. To illustrate the difference, and without to much spoilerfication, here's how each ended:

FEAR 1: Running out of a self-destructing facility while incorporeal enemies portal in and charge at you as your ammo slowly diminishes - Finale moment - "Ah hell I don't think that helped"

FEAR 2: Running around a small warped field/warzone while a replicated enemy teleports his multiple copies around shooting at you as you struggle to reach a console. Finale moment - "Oh crap"

FEAR 3: Stuck in a tiny clearing shooting at the glowing spot o'weakness on the stationary enemy while a couple of enemies teleport in at fixed moments - Finale moment - "The end....?"

This let down manifests itself throughout the entire storyline - in the first game it was possible to find laptops and listen to answer-phone messages that relayed the back story; in the second you could find notes that acted in the same manner. Both were in-game actions that could suck the player into the game and into the story. The third outing has nothing like that - instead you can find bodies surrounded by white mist to perform a psychic link and earn yourself 1500 points or scour the area for the one cutesy Alma doll that exists in each level while the story was relayed through cut-scenes.

Sure they all have their scripted elements that always occur at a certain point, but for me the third version telegraphed these with no real shocks.

It sounds an odd accusation to level at a video game - but they turned it into a game.

Now some may argue that it's different at the higher levels of difficulty, but this wasn't the case for the previous games. Even at the lowest level both these games (and, off-hand, the Silent Hill series) had tension, shocks and had me genuinely creeping around starting at shadows. FEAR 3... not so much; it was more Resistance with ghosts and instead of tension it was more frustration.

That's not to say it wasn't a good game; mechanically it worked. The cover system was fine, the AI intelligent enough to pose a threat and it's certainly replayable - it just wasn't a FEAR game in the same mould as its predecessors.